Reese’s Stuffed Rice Krispies Treats 

Talk about easy and way too delicious!   These are the new Rice Krispy Treats.  It’s not that traditional Rice Krispies aren’t good,  they’re just a little boring and safe. These are the opposite. They’re over-the-top and surprising in a way that everyone, including Krispies, treats purists, will love.

And it just does not get any easier….

Ingredients
Cooking spray, for pan
5 tbsp. butter
1 (10-oz.) bag marshmallows
1/2 c. smooth peanut butter
Pinch kosher salt
6 c. Rice Krispies Cereal
12 Reese’s cups
1/4 c. melted peanut butter, for garnish
1/4 c. melted chocolate, for garnish
Directions
  1. Line a 9”-x-13” pan with parchment paper and grease with cooking spray. In a large pot over medium-low heat, melt butter. Stir in marshmallows, peanut butter, and salt and stir until mixture is melted. Remove from heat.
  2. Immediately add Rice Krispies and stir with a rubber spatula until combined. Working quickly, press half of mixture into an even layer in the pan, then top with a layer of Reese’s. Press remaining mixture over Reese’s.
  3. Drizzle with melted chocolate and peanut butter, then refrigerate until cool, about 30 minutes.
  4. Slice into squares and serve.  Maybe that should say slice & eat!
Reese’s Stuffed Rice Krispies Treats 

12 MYTHS ABOUT COFFEE

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12 MYTHS ABOUT COFFEE

Two Buck Chuck ~ The Real Stor

HOW TRADER JOE’S WINE BECAME CHEAPER THAN BOTTLED WATER

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“CHARLES SHAW WINE USED TO BE GREAT — AND NOBODY DRANK IT. NOW, IT’S TERRIBLE AND IT’S SELLING LIKE GANGBUSTERS.”

“I TRIED TO PUT IT ALL BEHIND ME BUT I NEVER STOPPED THINKING ABOUT WINE.”

Two Buck Chuck

Charles not in charge

Two Buck Chuck
Two Buck Chuck ~ The Real Stor

Rump Cap Roast is amazing!

The rump cap cut features heavily in Brazilian cooking, where it is known as the Picanha. With a decent amount of fat coverage to keep it moist, the rump cap is perfect for barbecues and roasting. Today’s recipe will be focusing on the latter, as we’ll be creating a heavenly roast that packs plenty of punch in the flavor department…

You’ll need:

  • 1 cut of rump cap (approx. 3⅓ lb)
  • coarse salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 3⅓ fl oz olive oil

For the filling:

  • 12⅓ oz diced mozarella
  • 4¼ oz chopped bacon
  • 1 diced red pepper
  • 2 diced onions
  • 1 tsp oregano

For the sauce:

  • 10 fl oz red wine
  • 2 tbsp plum jelly
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper

Here’s how:

1. Remove the fat and sinew from the rump cap and sear it on both sides in a pan containing vegetable oil. After removing it from the pan, leave it to cool for a short while.

2. Use a sharp knife to cut off a thin slice from the larger side of the rump cap. Next, cut a deep pocket into the meat as in the image below.

3. Now carefully roll the pocket inside out, making sure the rump cap doesn’t get torn in the process.

4. Chop up the onions, peppers, and bacon and fry them in a pan. Transfer the contents of the pan into a bowl containing diced mozzarella and stir everything together with the oregano.

Add the filling to the meat. Close the pocket with cocktail sticks and rub the paprika, coarse salt, and pepper onto both sides of the meat.

5. Place the rump cap in an oven set to 390°F with the top and bottom heat on for 35 minutes. Afterward, leave it to rest for 10 minutes.

For the sauce, reduce the red wine and add the plum jelly, a pinch of salt, and some cayenne pepper. Leave the sauce to cook for five more minutes.

It’s surprising to see that this sumptuous cut of meat is fairly unknown in everyday cooking. That’s why it’s down to you to spread the word by preparing this hearty roast for all your friends and family!

Rump Cap Roast is amazing!

5 Ways to Take Better Care of Your Knives, According to Chefs

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Having a great knife makes cooking so much more enjoyable when you have this joy of cutting through something that’s so easy and effortless, plus it’s going to last you a lifetime and can even be an heirloom for your kids.

If you want to get the most out of that fancy new knife you bought—and have it last long enough to actually be an heirloom follow these tips from the experts.

Whatever you do: Don’t put them in the dishwasher.

The biggest mistake people make at home, according to Blanchard and Cox, is putting their knives in the dishwasher. Newer high-powered dishwashers can even warp the steel. You always want to hand wash and hand dry your knives.

“Use a kitchen rag or soft sponge be gentle.”

Taking care of your knives

Remember that boning knives aren’t for … bones.

When it comes to knife work, bones are off-limits. Period. (And boning knives are designed for working around the bones and through the joints.)

People assume that Japanese knives can go through anything, that they’re like samurai swords. They cannot go through bone. They are finely made, like jewelry.

And please don’t try to cut through frozen food, either. That can damage the knife.

Ditch the bamboo cutting board.

What you’re cutting on is almost just as important as the technique you’re using. Hardwood is preferable. You can use plastic or composite rubber, especially when you’re cutting raw proteins, so you can just put it in the dishwasher. Bamboo is a little too rough.

Learn the difference between honing and sharpening.

Both are important. Honing, which you should do more frequently, involves grinding the edge of the knife on a stone to even it out. The process doesn’t sharpen the knife, but it fixes the blade’s alignment, which makes it feel sharper and cut better. Sharpening, on the other hand, involves actually shaving off some of the blade, and should be done a few times a year at home, or at a shop that professionally sharpens knives.

“”you don’t want to sharpen or hone your knife on anything harder than the steel of the knife itself,” says Cox, suggesting ceramic honing rods. “Hone your knife a couple times on each side – always use the same amount of passes on each side. Go ten or twelve. But if you’re going more than ten or twelve on each side, and it doesn’t go right back, then its time to sharpen.”

Incorporate oil.

Applying oil to a carbon steel knife will help prevent any oxidation or rusting, though don’t use any vegetable oils like canola or olive.

What happens with vegetable-based oils is they get rancid, so use Tsubaki oil, Camellia seed oil, very thin and neutral and you don’t need a lot of it. You can get mineral oil at the grocery store.

In many respects, you want to treat your knives like they are cast-iron pans.

For a stainless steel knife and carbon steel knife, you want to treat it like a cast-iron pan. Even for a stainless steel knife, some knives are high polished and contain nickel and silver. Humidity speeds up the oxidation process, causing the knives to rust, so you want to store them in as dry a place as possible.

5 Ways to Take Better Care of Your Knives, According to Chefs

 Foods Most Likely to Make You Ill

There’s a hot-list of foods that spread food-borne illnesses more than others, but there are a few steps you can take to best protect yourself from any sickness.

Home cooks are increasingly seeing alarming headlines about national outbreaks of serious food-borne illnesses and with the recent fervor over one of the worst E. coli outbreaks in the last decade, the topic of food safety has never been so relevant.

The list is based on information that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keeps for cooks looking to keep their kitchens as safe as possible. The shortlist of foods below are linked to food-borne illnesses more frequently than any other on the market. Luckily, there are steps you can take to reduce your chance of illness when eating them.

Which foods are the most likely to get you sick?

They’re as follows:

Did You Eat Romaine Lettuce? These Are the E. coli Warning Signs to Look For
A massive E. coli outbreak caused agencies to ask the entire nation to toss their romaine lettuce.

Chicken, beef, turkey, and pork

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Raw and undercooked meat and poultry are surefire ways to get you sick. Nearly all raw poultry contains a bacteria called campylobacter, which the CDC says is the leading cause of “diarrheal sickness” in the United States. Other illness-causing bacteria linked to questionable meat include salmonella, E. coli, Yersinia (commonly found on raw pork), and C. perfringens (one of the most common bacteria leading to short-term food poisoning.)

Vegetables and fruits

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It’s crucial to front-load your daily diet with tons of fresh vegetables and fruits, but raw variations can often cause food poisoning from contamination with salmonella, E. coli, and listeria bacteria. The exterior of uncooked fruits and vegetables are especially tricky as they’re a breeding ground for bacteria during transportation from farm to table, and especially at risk for cross-contamination in the kitchen. There are more than a few ways to clean them, however, and cooking your veggies is a sure way to eliminate most risk.

Raw milk and cheese

How to Store Soft Cheeses So They Don't Get Moldy

Some might think it’s very tasty, but health officials say that raw milk and the products made with unpasteurized milk can carry ample bacteria including E. coli, listeria, and salmonella, among others. Other dairy items that are more likely to hide harmful bacteria is feta cheese, brie and camembert, queso fresco, ice cream, and yogurt.

Eggs

1804w Eggs

We watched as more than 200 million eggs were recalled due to a widespread salmonella contamination—the CDC says salmonella is often undetected, even for eggs that look clean and un-cracked. Choosing pasteurized eggs could help reduce that risk.

Raw shellfish and seafood

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There is a greater chance to get sick with food poisoning from raw fish, yes. But raw shellfish is often more problematic than anything, with staples like oysters containing viruses and bacteria that could cause serious sickness—more than 100 people recently fell ill in California after eating raw oysters contaminated with norovirus.

Sprouts:

sprouts

Warm and humid growing conditions for things like alfalfa and bean sprouts lend themselves to perfect growing conditions for salmonella, E. coli, and listeria. Thoroughly cooking sprouts before placing them in any dish can help reduce the chance of you getting sick.

 Raw Flour:

Casabella Cookie Dough Trays with Lids

The last item on the list is flour, which is usually raw and hasn’t been treated and because we cook with it or use it in our baking, those germs are killed during cooking. Things like raw cookie dough have often been a source of food poisoning given that the flour in these staples hasn’t been cooked.

It’s nearly impossible to avoid food-borne illnesses altogether, but using the safety tips to enjoy the foods on the list above might save you from a firsthand experience with food poisoning. 1 in 6 people in the United States suffer through side effects of food-borne diseases, and more than 3,000 deaths each year are caused by foodborne pathogens, the CDC says.

This may help you want to “eat less” if you want to lose weight.  I used to love raw chocolate chip cookie dough, but it does not look quite so appealing at the moment.  Eat safe and enjoy!

 Foods Most Likely to Make You Ill

How Long Can Cheese Sit Out

Bon Appetit and Epicurious wrote this interesting article about our favorite snack – Cheese!

Putting cheese and crackers out at a party, whether sliced sharp cheddar and Triscuits or Humboldt Fog and crostini, is a simple way to welcome guests. Everyone loves cheese, and people will snack on it all night. But if hours go by and there’s still half a wedge of Brie on the cheese board, are you putting your friends in danger? In other words: How long can cheese sit out before you get sick or die?

Bringing cheese to room temperature is essential to help the fat loosen up, which gives the cheese a better texture and flavor. However, there is a ticking clock on how long it should stay out past that hour (or two) out of the fridge. To keep yourself safe from bacterial growth or spoilage, you should only keep cheese out for four hours, according to the director of food safety, quality, and regulatory compliance at Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin.

With that said, some cheeses fare better than others with quality after those four hours elapse. Higher moisture cheeses like ricotta, queso blanco, and mascarpone will deteriorate in quality and spoil faster when left on the counter. Soft cheeses including Brie, Camembert, or a bloomy-rind fancier cheese will last a little longer, and harder cheeses from cheddar to Gouda to Parmesan will hold up the longest. Parm, Romano, or harder cheeses will likely not have micro bacterium growth or very insignificant amounts throughout the duration of a party,. Those cheeses you’ll often see hanging in Italian markets or cut into pieces on display at the grocery store because they don’t require constant refrigeration.

Long before you get an upset stomach from cheese (uh, unless you’re lactose intolerant), you’ll probably notice that it’s looking a little sad. Cheese will dry out when left in open air, especially in a warmer room, and start to look crusty and crumbly.  After eight hours on a cheese board, cheddar will likely not have a lot of bacterial growth, but it won’t look appealing to eat. However, there is no way to tell if there are bacteria on a piece of cheese based on looking because it’s microscopic. One thing you can tell immediately about a cheese gone bad is if there’s mold growing on it in the fridge. If you see that, cut off about 1–1½ inches around the mold and continue eating it. However, if a high-moisture cheese like ricotta or cream cheese has a spot of mold, throw it out it will have contaminated the entire container.

cheese harbison
See this beautiful oozy wheel of Harbison? Don’t let it sit out for more than four hours!

There has been some extensive research done in Wisconsin that proves cheese can stay out for up to six hours at 70°F or colder. Some cheeses tested for low levels of listeria, salmonella, Escherichia, and staphylococcus but nothing life-threatening. The level of water activity in a cheese determines how long it can stay out. Hard cheeses like Parmesan could be out for 24 hours and be fine, but a young cheddar is more vulnerable. You will see oiling off and drying out from it sitting out in the open air. If it starts to look like it’s glistening, that’s a sign to either put it back in the fridge or toss it.

Trust yourself. If it looks unappealing, don’t eat it. You probably won’t get sick, and definitely won’t die, but the quality of cheese can plummet dramatically after more than four hours at your party. Eat something else, take out a new block of cheese from the fridge, or maybe just serve fondue at your next party. Cheese sweats are always better than sweaty cheese.

*Pregnant women, the elderly, or people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for food-borne illness and should take a higher level of caution.

How Long Can Cheese Sit Out

How Chefs Eat Artichokes

Raw, fried, creamed, or stuffed: There are so many ways to heart artichokes.

Food and Wine Magazine comes up with some of the most interesting articles.  This one about artichokes is great, as artichokes are appearing beautifully in the local grocery markets.  I grow my own, but they are so pretty on the plant, I have a hard time wanting to cut them off and eat them.
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Though scraping the meat off of an artichoke leaf is both cathartic and delicious (particularly when said leaf has been doused in melted butter), there are so many more ways to eat this tasty thistle. You could stuff the insides with potatoes. You could make a warm, cheesy dip. You could even throw the hearts into a bread pudding. This spring, we vote for trying it all.

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Since it’s peak season for artichokes, we asked chefs across the country about their favorite ways to eat ‘em. Here’s what they had to say:

Shota Nakajima, Chef/Owner, Adana

“Artichokes are snacks for me, so I like to blanch the whole entire thing without cleaning them till they’re nice and soft. Then pick the leaves and dip them in Kewpie mayo. The snacky thing where I get to eat with my hands, like pistachios, is something that I love to do.”

Sarah Grueneberg, Chef/Owner, Monteverde

“I like to shave artichokes raw into a salad or fry them in a little olive oil to make crispy chips.”

 

Shaved Artichoke Salad

David Posey, Chef/Owner, Elske

“I love cooking artichokes using a technique that Paul Kahan told me about, ‘sott’olio’, which is an Italian technique of holding vegetables in oil. The way I like to cook the artichokes is completely cleaning them of tough outer leaves and woody parts, then gently simmer in a very acidic court bouillon, then to finish, ‘shock’ them in cold oil. They are best after they hang out in the fridge in the cold oil for a few days.”

Julia Jaksic, Chef, Employees Only

“I love grilled artichokes on a wood fire with a garlicky aioli.”

Nicholas Elmi, Chef/Owner, LaurelITV, and Royal Boucherie

“Depending on size, for larger globe artichokes I like a traditional barigould (white wine, lemon, thyme, black pepper, and olive oil), for young tender artichokes I like to just split them, dust them with seasoned flour and fry them. Served with a simple dipping sauce like remoulade, they’re a perfect, light spring treat.”

 

Roman Fried Artichokes

Flynn McGarry, Chef/Owner, Gem

“I like artichokes raw in a salad. I’ve also done a “Blooming Artichoke” dish where we fry it like a Blooming Onion.”

Emily Yuen, Executive Chef, Bessou

“If I am cooking at home, I like to simply boil the artichokes in chicken stock and lemon. I like to peel off the leaves dip it in melted butter and scrape the meat off of the outer leaves with my teeth.”

Justin Bazdarich, Chef/Owner, Speedy Romeo

“For chokes, I cut in half and then poach in an aromatic broth. Once cooked, I pull out the choke and brush with olive oil and then place on the wood grill. After cooked, simply serve with any spicy aioli or mayo for dipping leaves and eating the heart.”

Star Ingredient: Quercus Umbriae Giudia Artichokes. If cooks were asked to name the vegetables they find most intimidating and time-consuming to prepare, artichokes would surely top the list. Marinated artichoke hearts from Umbria in central Italy solve the problem: No trimming, cooking or choke removal is required.

How to Make It

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 425°. Toast the bread directly on the oven racks until dry and lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Rub 1 side of the toast with the cut sides of the garlic clove. Lower the oven temperature to 375°.

Step 2

Brush the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the reserved artichoke oil and arrange one-third of the toast in a single layer. Top with half of the artichokes. Season lightly with salt and pepper and top with one-third of the cheese. Repeat with another layer of toast, artichokes, and cheese and season with salt and pepper. Top with the remaining toast and cheese.

Step 3

In a bowl, mix the milk with the eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the custard over the bread; cover with plastic wrap. Lay a few cans on the plastic to keep the bread submerged. Let soak until most of the custard is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove the plastic.

Step 4

Place a sheet of oiled parchment paper on top of the pudding and cover with foil. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and parchment; bake for 15 minutes longer, or until the top is golden. Let the pudding cool for 15 minutes before cutting into squares and serving.

Make Ahead

The pudding can be prepared through Step 3 and refrigerated overnight. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before proceeding.

Suggested Pairing

Look for a full-flavored Chardonnay from Italy or France with only a little oak.

The thinly sliced, crunchy raw artichokes are the star of this salad from chef Chris Behr of the Rome Sustainable Food Project. Buy the freshest ones you can get your hands on. A true test: The leaves should squeak when you squeeze them.

How to Make It

Step 1

Pour the lemon juice into 
a large bowl. Working with 
1 artichoke at a time, pull off 
the tough outer leaves. Using a small knife, slice 1/4 inch off the top of each artichoke, then trim and peel the stems. Very thinly slice each artichoke lengthwise and add to the bowl. Toss with the lemon juice and ½ teaspoon of salt. Let stand for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Step 2

Spread the arugula and radicchio on a platter. Using 
a slotted spoon, lift the artichokes from the lemon juice and scatter over the greens. Sprinkle with the herbs.

Step 3

Whisk the olive oil with the remaining lemon juice in the large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the salad; serve.

Double-frying is the secret to making these super-crispy and addictive fried artichokes from TV chef Andrew Zimmern.

Ingredients

How to Make It

Step 1

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the fine salt. Whisking constantly, slowly stream in the olive oil until the aioli is thick and glossy. Whisk in 1 more tablespoon of the lemon juice and the anchovies. Cover and refrigerate.

Step 2

Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of lemon juice to a large bowl of cold water. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, trim the stem. Snap off the leaves until you reach the tender light green inner leaves. Cut off the top third of the artichoke and trim off any tough leaves near the base. Halve the artichoke lengthwise and scoop out the fuzzy choke if necessary. Drop the artichoke in the lemon water. Repeat with the remaining artichokes.

Step 3

In a medium, straight-sided skillet, heat 2 inches of canola oil to 250°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with paper towels and top with a rack. Drain the artichokes well and pat dry. Fry in 3 batches over moderately high heat until tender and just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the artichokes to the prepared wire rack to drain.

Step 4

Heat the oil to 375°. Fry the artichokes again in 3 batches until crispy, about 1 minute per batch. This time, drain on the paper towels. Season generously with sea salt and serve hot with the aioli and lemon wedges.

Make Ahead

The aioli can be refrigerated overnight.

Suggested Pairing

Fragrant Central Italian white.
How Chefs Eat Artichokes

Chocolate Caramel Cake

This is my go-to cake for special occasions, as every always loves it. But you do have to love chocolate ~ Caramel ~ English Toffee!  It is a simple recipe, but the add-ins make it rich and delicious.

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The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe

Ingredients

Chocolate Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder (King Arthur available at Amazon)
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • One jar of the best caramel topping you can find, kept in the refrigerator to make it harder.
  • English Toffee
  • Big Malted Milk Balls

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350º F.   Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring. Then line with 9″ round parchment paper and spray again.  (I buy the pre-cut rounds by Wilton – available at Walmart)
  • For the cake:
  • Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.
  • Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.
  • Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center, comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.
  • Using a serrated bread knife, cut each layer in half so you have four layers.
Putting it together:
  • Make the Chocolate Buttercream recipe shown below.  Pipe or spoon a ridge of the buttercream all around the outside of the first layer.
  • Fill the center with the now hardened caramel
  • Put on the second & third layer and repeat
  • Frost the cake with rest of the frosting (there always seems to be a bit too much)
  • Put the English Toffee in a ziplock bag and crush with your rolling pin or meat pounder.
  • Decorate how you like with the Malted Milk Balls

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

INGREDIENTS

  • 1½ cups butter (3 sticks), softened
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 5 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon espresso powder

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Whisk through to remove any lumps.
  2. Cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined.
  3. Add sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, turn mixer onto a high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added.
  4. Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and combine well.
  5. If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If it appears to wet and does not hold its form, add more confectioner’s sugar, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency.

Serve with Champagne and have a wonderful time.

Chocolate Caramel Cake

Freeze and Reheat Prepared Meals

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The freezer is truly the best meal prep assistant you have.

Freezing entire pre-made meals is a time-honored tradition, stretching back as long as busy cooks have been in a crunch to put homemade meals on the table AKA, since the dawn of freezer technology.

Using your freezer as a kitchen assistant will not only bring some peace of mind to your meal prep but will help foster healthier eating habits by making nutritious, homemade meals readily available during times you’re tempted to swing through the drive-thru for an easy dinner option.

Whether you’re freezing prepared meals for convenience, time, or the health benefits, these tips will help you get the most flavor and quality out of your reheated pre-prepped dishes and ingredients.

Plan Ahead

When embarking on your meal prep experience, pick a dedicated day of the week to hunker down in the kitchen and spend some quality time preparing your dishes to be frozen and consumed later. Whether it’s a lazy weekend afternoon or a free weekday evening, by committing a chunk of time to putting together your make-ahead dishes you’ll have plenty of options ready to go when you’re in need of a quick, easy meal.

Choose Your Ingredients Wisely

Not all ingredients are created equal when it comes to freezing, and certain foods won’t fare as well once thawed. Some cream-based products like half-and-half, cream cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese, and ricotta are less likely to be a success when reheated, as separation naturally occurs during freezing, resulting in a grainy texture once it’s thawed and cooked.

Raw potatoes shouldn’t be frozen, as they will oxidize and turn black, and leafy greens and lettuces will be unsuccessful in the freezer if frozen raw due to their high water content. Instead, these ingredients should be pre-cooked and incorporated into a dish before heading to the freezer.

Ingredients that are meant to add extra texture to a dish, such as a crumble topping, crushed nuts, or fried onions, should always be added after the dish is thawed. Freezing them with the dish will result in a soggy texture, rendering the crunchy addition pointless.

Nail the Technique

Before slipping your dish into the freezer, it’s essential to allow pre-cooked foods to cool, as placing a piping-hot dish in your icebox will lower the overall freezer temperature, which could result in foods around it thawing and spoiling. If you’re in a rush, rather than using the refrigerator to cool dishes down quickly which will lead to the same issue, give them an ice bath in the sink. For this technique, fill your sink with a shallow layer of water and ice, and lower your hot dishes into it for a few minutes, making sure the water only comes halfway up the sides of your dish.

While your dishes are cooling, make sure your freezer temperature is set low enough, as all prepared foods should be stored in a freezer that is 0 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.

As a rule, when freezing food you want the containers to be as airtight as possible. Individually-sized meals should be frozen in airtight lidded plastic containers to limit the amount of outside oxygen flowing into the dish. It’s wise to double-wrap your plastic containers in a layer of freezer-proof plastic wrap if you’re planning on storing the dish for more than a week.

When storing larger dishes and casseroles, make sure to thoroughly wrap the entire container to limit the oxygen flow. Start by completely covering the top of the dish with freezer-proof foil, and then wrap the entirety of the dish in plastic wrap. Depending on the length of time you’re planning on storing, adding a second layer of plastic wrap will result in fresher flavors with no risk of freezer burn.

When freezing casseroles, it’s always best to opt for a shallow casserole dish, which will make for a faster-reheating process, as well as better distribution of heat through the entire dish.

All frozen foods should be marked with the name of the meal, the date it was prepared, and detailed instructions for reheating before being stowed away. This will ensure the food is eaten within a safe time period, and that other family members will be able to reheat the dish properly if you’re not around to lend a hand.

When freezing prepared meats, vegetables, grains, and pasta, it’s wise to slightly undercook to just tender before freezing. Each of these ingredients will cook slightly more when reheated, so they can easily become overcooked if stored well-done.  For tips on how to freeze and reheat premade soups and stews, check out our guide here.

The Size is Right

The size of the dishes you’re freezing will be flexible depending on your personal needs. If you’re prepping food for a whole family, large format meals like casseroles will work in your favor. However, if you’re looking for easy lunches or solo dinners, meal prepping individual portions is a great option.

For individual meals, freezing fundamental pre-cooked ingredients like brown rice, pasta, proteins, and cooked vegetables can make for easy lunches and individually portioned dinners down the line. These ingredients can be stored in separate containers and combined after the reheating process, or portioned out into smaller servings for easy access and portability. These ingredients will keep well in airtight freezer bags or plastic containers, which can be stacked for easy storage.

Casseroles make for the ultimate pre-made, family-sized frozen meal, as most will keep well in the freezer for up to 2 months, and are easy to prep and reheat. Plus, most casseroles can be frozen and stored before or after they’ve been baked.

If you’d prefer to not freeze your casserole in the dish putting that kitchen tool out of use until the dish has been reheated another option is to flash freeze your casserole before removing from the pan and storing separately. To do so, prior to preparing the casserole, line the casserole dish with a layer of aluminum foil and plastic wrap that hangs over the edges. Prepare your casserole and place in the freezer until completely frozen. Then, use the excess plastic wrap to pull the frozen dish out of the pan, and wrap the dish thoroughly in freezer-proof plastic. When you’re ready to reheat, unwrap the food and place it back in the pan for reheating in the oven. Another option is to stock up on inexpensive disposable foil pans that can easily be tossed after use.

Reheating 

In order to make sure your food is as safe as possible for consumption, food should always be thawed in the refrigerator rather than at room temperature. Once initially thawed, foods shouldn’t be refrozen, unless they’re completely cooked before heading back into the freezer.

For those in a rush, the microwave can be an easy method of thawing and reheating (if the portion size is right). If using a microwave or high-capacity toaster oven it’s wise to use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the center of the dish from time-to-time to guarantee it’s reached a safe 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

In order to safely thaw a prepped casserole, transfer the dish to the fridge for 24 hours before cooking. Then, cook the casserole at the same temperature as the recipe originally called for, adding an extra 15-20 minutes to the time and checking the temperature of the dish occasionally.

When reheating a pre-cooked casserole, you can go directly from freezer to oven. Cook the dish at the same temperature you would if cooking it fresh but give the dish an extra 20 minutes, checking the progress of the dish intermittently to make sure it’s heating properly, but not overcooking.

When reheating a casserole dish in the oven, leave the foil layer in place, folding back the corner or cutting a few slits in the top to allow steam to release from the dish. Rotate the dish occasionally during reheating to allow for even reheating.

Once you’ve gotten into the freezing groove, your meal prep is all but guaranteed to be a breeze even on your busiest of days.

Freeze and Reheat Prepared Meals